Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Inside Scoop on Bees

Gosh, it's almost the end of March. So much for going out like a lamb. The wind is gusting to over 30 mph. But the sun is shining, temperature topped 60 degrees, and John's out taking down the windbreak around the bees. We need to slid open the tops and look in to see if they made it through the winter. We have three hives and the east one should be okay. We've seen more activity in that hive, like bees going in and out on sunny days which we haven't had much of these last few weeks. Good news: bees are buzzing in all the hives but we can't tell yet much else because John only slid back the tops far enough to feed them a 1:1 sugar to water ratio mixed with their Nosema medication. Even bees get meds. They get real bad bee diarrhea if they don't get their meds, and ours did this winter and did we have some yellow snow! You do want to know about this, don't you? Aside: we have in each hive a bee feeder which is a black trough the length and width and height of a bee frame (of course, you know what a bee frame looks like) into which one pours sugar syrup and when appropriate bed meds so that the bees won't starve in March or April or May as in the case in Harney County before the flower bloom comes on.

Bill Hanley

So you are asking, who is Bill Hanley? He was a Harney County rancher born in 1861 and died 1935. He helped develop Harney County which is part of the Oregon frontier. He was quite a character and I wrote an article about him for the online Oregon Encyclopedia Project. I'm including the link to the article here in case you want to take a look at it. It isn't long and worth a read if I have to say so myself. He kept a journal which the editor Anne Monroe put into a memoir called “Feelin' Fine” which is also worth a read. He was the kind of guy legends are made of. Here's the link:
You might also want to cruise around Oregon Encyclopedia and see all the interesting stuff that makes up Oregon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby Goats

Yesterday morning John and I took a walk east on Palomino Lane to see how high the water is getting in the ditches and pasture. I was taking photos in front of our place when our neighbor, Frances, came roaring up in her rust and blue 1974 four wheel drive Chevy truck she just bought for $700. She's tickled with its performance on her pasture road, said she didn't get stuck at all. (Yet.) So she stopped to talk as most of the neighbors do, as there are so few of us. Turns out she was on her way to a hay farmer neighbor west of us to pick up some hay from a broken bale for her menagerie of animals she raises for food. How you going to lift the hay in? I got a pitch fork with me. Well, she had just come from another neighbor where they had de-horned three baby goats, two girls and a guy from the same mother. They were in a dog carry case in the cab. We called John out to see them. They smelled like . . . . burned horns, but they were cute little devils.She said it didn't hurt them, they'd forget about it, you don't want a goat with horns.  Hmm.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Duck Down

Last evening I went as usual to close the duck pen. There were only four ducks instead of five – the three black runners, Scarlet, Rhett and Ashley, and the mallard hen, Black Beauty. Jazzie was missing, my favorite. She was a dove brown mallard. The ducks always go everywhere together. My heart sank and I launched a search around the farm yard. No Jazzie. I closed up the chickens and went out to the ditches along Palomino Lane which are full of water since spring flooding is upon us. I looked up and down the road. Saw nothing. We had just had a two hour howling snow storm. I saw no coyotes tracks or otherwise. John came out and I told him. He wanted to take a walk to the west on Palomino Lane. He got not 100 feet and called out to me. There lay what was left of Jazzie. Most of her had been eaten. Her shoulders,neck, head and feet were all that was left. Someone had made supper of her. I was so sad. We put her remains to the side of the road and covered her with dead sage brush. Today I was out in the farm yard, and the ducks had an eye to the sky. I looked up and saw an eagle soaring; then there were two. I thought that is what had happened to Jazzie since coyotes usually cart their meal off to eat elsewhere, not let them lay in the middle of the road. When I looked out the window later, a red headed big black bird sat on the mound that was Jazzie. Turkey vultures finished her off.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Acrylics and Snow

Yesterday we stopped at Kings Variety Store in the middle of another snowstorm, and I bought a 3-pack of 11 x 14 canvases and starting painting with acrylics last evening. I like the fluidity of painting. When two artists friends and I did the Steens Mountain landscape last November which hangs in our hallway, I liked how if they didn't like something they painted over it.  Improvise. This interests me in creativity. I'd like to be able to improvise on the piano but I'm stuck to the music. In my painting last night I wrote "I'm tired of lines".  I want to color outside the lines. I think this will help my writing.  Improvise and keep coloring. Yes, and it is still snowing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Potato Snow

Plant potatoes around St. Patrick's Day and you can expect they'll be snow on your potatoes. That was the thinking I heard from farmer relatives back in Pennsylvania. It is March 26 and snowing here in the frontier of Eastern Oregon.  It's that La Nina girl in the Pacific making temperatures the forecasters say at least ten degrees cooler than normal this year. The climate forecast is for below average temperatures into June. Sigh. And we haven't planted potatoes yet.  

The ducks are in duck heaven because the ditches are full of water that run along the ranch road in front of our place and they race out in the morning after I open their pen, headed for a day in the ditches.  The chickens would prefer no snow. Thursday night I counted beaks on the roost and I came up one short. It was Sadie, the Plymouth Bard Rock, who is in her third winter.  I last noticed her out in the pasture with the others near the wheel lines and that's the last I saw her.  There's was a big hawk or maybe an immature eagle in our poplar tree this week. Maybe he got a taste for chicken. Could be Wiley Coyote.  We knew we might be sharing with the wild things in the neighborhood. So far we've lost three chickens in three years to predators. I can live with that.